Lea Chapman has achieved some firsts for the Carmel School.
She’s among the first students to take Advanced Placement courses at the private Christian school. When she graduates later this month, she’ll hold the distinction of being the first student to have attended the school all the way from preschool through the end of 12th grade.
And last week, Chapman became the first Carmel student to sign a letter of intent to play a sport at a university.
Chapman has committed to playing volleyball at Mid-Atlantic Christian University, which is located in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The university’s athletic director, Neal Alligood, visited the Carmel School April 29 to make it official.
Chapman said she enjoyed the friendly, Christian environment when she toured the university recently.
“At the tryouts, we just really connected on the floor as a team, and to me, that says a lot,” Chapman said. “It really said something to me about how the rest of the school will be like.”
She plans to study elementary education and become a teacher, following in the footsteps of her mother, Lori, and many other relatives.
Mid-Atlantic is providing her with an academic scholarship.
Brent Miller, headmaster of the Carmel School, commented, “It brings a little bit of validation into the effort that we really try to put in athletics. We’re not at the level where we’re going to compete with the large schools yet. We want to get there, and I think we have the coaches that can get us there.
“For Lea to go out and be able to start playing college athletics, especially in volleyball, it makes us feel good about what we’ve put into the program, and it makes us realize that we’re doing the right things. Slowly but surely, we’re going to build on this success, and Lea will be the first one that we can remind all of the students that it’s possible.”
Miller noted that Chapman has balanced athletics and a challenging courseload.
This year, for examples, her classes include A.P. Calculus and A.P. Chemistry.
“(The teachers have) really helped develop my study skills, my critical thinking,” Chapman said. “All the teachers are very encouraging of thinking outside the box and taking that extra step to go a little bit further.”
During her time at the school, she’s played volleyball, basketball, and soccer, participated in cheerleading and theatre, and founded a community service club at the school.
Asked what she’ll miss most about Carmel, Chapman responded, “I want to say the community environment, because we’re all like one big family here, but I have a feeling that when I go to college, it’s going to be another community environment.”
She added, “I’ve had many friends throughout the years at the school and made really good connections with a lot of the teachers here, and not having them around everyday is going to be different.”
While academics are her top priority, Chapman said, she’s eager to return to the volleyball court.
“I’m very excited to play volleyball for (Mid-Atlantic). After that tryout session, I’m just excited to get back on the court.”
Miller said, “We’re proud of her. She’s one of the leaders of the student body. She definitely has the initiative and the drive to do things, and I think that’s evident with how she’s been able to carry herself, achieve what she’s achieved in doing a lot of firsts for the school, and we’re just excited to see what the next step is for her.”
A class of five seniors will graduate from the Carmel School at the end of this school year.